Life balance. I discussed 4 common myths and what it isn’t the other day. Now, it’s worth taking a look at what it is.
My definition: life balance is the process of actively creating fulfillment in every major area of our lives: career, family, relationships, spirituality, health, hobbies, finances, etc.
The common definition seems to be: working less. When we’re overworked or stressed, we say we need more life balance and what we mean is we want less work. But working less doesn’t automatically balance our lives. If we’re overworked, working less will free up some time that we could use to find better balance, but that is neither automatic nor guaranteed.
I suspect that when most of us think of a balanced life we think of it as not having pain in any of the major areas. Yeah, that’s a start, but avoiding pain contracts and shrinks our lives while seeking fulfillment expands and opens our lives up. No pain vs fulfillment sounds similar, but it’s the difference between not starving and having plenty to eat, of not being poor and being financially secure, of not having enemies and having lots of friends, of never getting emotionally hurt and connecting deeply with the important people in your life, of not being ill and being vibrantly healthy, and so on. It is the difference between surviving and living.
This means that life balance is:
- Dependent on you knowing what you find fulfilling. Life balance is about creating fulfillment, so if you don’t know what fulfills you it’s going to be really, really hard to create balance. When we don’t know what would be fulfilling we default to avoiding pain.
- Different for everyone. We are all fulfilled by different things so be cautious about trying to imitate another’s life balance choices. They might work for you, but they might not.
- Never finished. Balance is a dynamic process that is always shifting and changing. There is no finish line, there is no “done”. It is always subject to change as we face new circumstances and life events.
- Dependent on opportunity costs and tradeoffs. We can’t spend 24 hours a day on each aspect of our lives so the key is knowing how much time and effort we need to give to each area and when.
- All about priority management. Creating balance requires effectively managing our time and priorities.
The big questions are:
- What are your priorities?
- What would fulfillment look like in each major area of your life?
- What would you need to do to create that?
- Why is that important to you? Is it really, truly so important that you’re willing to do what it takes to get there, or does it just sound cool? Choose the things that matter to you so much you’re willing to work to get them.
I suspect I’m overcomplicating it. Life balance is simple (not easy; never easy). Be clear on what you want from life and what yo’re willing to do (and what you’re willing to forego) in order to get it. Then go do it.